1. They love exclamation points. They loooooove them. The first time I bought PSW, I was in a terrible funk. I flipped through an issue at the newsstand and saw the exclamation points, the pink arrows, and the pages almost entirely devoid of text, and I was like, “How cheerful!” Except that when everything concludes with an exclamation point--there are ten on the cover of the June issue alone, four in a tiny blurb about a juice drink--it comes off less like genuine enthusiasm and more just plain manic. (Yeah, yeah, I use a lot of exclamation points, too, but I use them sarcastically. Glass houses, etc.)
2. They also love irrelevant actors. This issue is packed with the likes of Camilla Alves, Emmy Rossum, and Rachel Bilson. And they! are! excited! about Camilla Belle, who I’m convinced is a publicist’s fabrication and not an actual human being. Has anyone ever seen her in a movie? Doesn’t matter, because PSW has devoted an entire page to her clothes and is looking forward to her upcoming roles in Breakaway and Zebras. Both of which are real movies, I’m sure.
3. They think they have moneybags readers. And perhaps they do. But foolishly, I’d expected PSW to be a low-end counterpart to Lucky. What was I thinking? There’s no advertiser payola in that! While the magazine does feature a decent mix of affordable styles (“Under $25!”), there are also the typical tone-deaf suggestions like “Celebs Love a Deal.” I’ll grant them Kirsten Dunst’s $50 dress from Express, but I refuse to budge on Vanessa Hudgens’ $71 scarf. Come on! It’s a scarf. Did kittens weave the scarf from their own freshly shed fur? No? Then no deal.
4. They run the worst celebrity ads ever. Admittedly, I’m behind on my reading what with moving across the country and job-hunting and all, so perhaps these ads (“celebrity mom Brooke Burke” for Suave, Patricia Field for U by Kotex) are in all the mags. But I want to discuss this Jessica Szohr ad for Dove antiperspirant: it’s THREE PAGES of her in the most awkward, armpit-revealing poses ever committed to print. In addition to pictures so bad they’re not even comical, the ad includes obviously fabricated quotes about the preposterous outfits she’s modeling. For instance:
My hip fedora tips this knit tank bohemian.
Did you have to read that sentence three times before you figured out which word was supposed to be the verb? Me too! Also:
Rocking sleeveless styles makes me feel powerful and feminine.
Uh, it’s a sleeveless top. Where does the power come from? Your hairless underarms? I am so confused by this conflation of armpits with, you know, ACTUAL EMPOWERMENT. I could go on, but I’ll just say this: Dove is merely a deodorant. It’s not a substance that magically confers equality when you apply it. Feminism will not emanate from your powder-scented armpits. Okay?
5. They employ hilariously meaningless statements about fashion. It’s the Lucky syndrome: when you have to describe everything, you’re backed into some truly absurd statements. And I know whereof I speak: in a former job, I had to describe 75 different pieces of lingerie every month, without using the word “sexy.” Try it at home some time. You’ll want to beat your head against a wall, or make friends with a thesaurus, or both!
About a pair of J. Crew espadrilles:
They’re so easy to slip on and off!
Good, because putting on and removing shoes is usually so challenging!
About a JC Penney elephant-pendant necklace:
Adds a unique, global touch!
Because nothing says you’re independent and cultured like wearing a $10 necklace from a national department store chain.
And on Taylor Swift’s tunic:
A drapey top worn off the shoulder adds a flirty, offhand touch.
Offhand? Is it supposed to look like you didn’t try at all? Fashion, you confuse me.
So that’s the June issue People StyleWatch, in approximately the same amount of words that actually appear in the magazine. I’ll save you the trouble of counting: I used twelve exclamation points in this post, not counting the title, and only three of those appeared in quotes from the magazine. Use the comments to castigate me as you see fit.